Conference delivers eye-opening information about construction risk management

The 35th International Risk Management Institute Inc. (IRMI) Construction Risk Conference (CRC) was held November 8-11 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference brought together more than 1,500 leading project owners, general contractors, subcontractors, developers, insurers, insurance agents and brokers to explore state-of-the-art ideas and techniques for improving insurance coverages, controlling insurance costs and fine-tuning risk management programs.

The conference is the only national symposium devoted exclusively to managing, insuring and bonding the risks of construction projects. It caters to construction risk professionals to provide answers and ensure risk management best practices. The 3-day conference featured three general sessions and 45 workshops presented by more than 60 nationally recognized insurance, risk management, safety and surety experts.

In attendance were construction risk, insurance and safety managers, and a large number of major insurance and surety service providers, as well as a substantial number of risk managers representing project owners.

Conference attendees gathered crucial information on the industry's most important risk topics, including the developing topic of insuring and protecting companies from the risks of drone use, and the constantly changing risks associated with cyberliability.

Ralph Fletcher, a CRIS-certified risk control advisor with IMA Inc. (, provides construction insurance for builders and contractors, and offers tools to navigate risk control, surety and contracts. Fletcher, who has attended the conference three times in the past four years, said "it is always time well invested." Fletcher's goals this year included gaining new perspectives related to subcontractor insurance contract management and labor perpetuation and networking with professionals to find real-world ideas.

IRMI facilitates communication between insurance and risk management professionals with a primary goal of helping people do a better job of managing risk by giving them the practical knowledge and wisdom they need to improve the way they do business. Fletcher found specific solutions this year at CRC, including new reference websites and contacts that readily offered to be his sounding board.

IRMI's objective for the conference is to provide education and networking opportunities in construction risk management. Amanda Beasley, IRMI's director of marketing, said, "Thirty-five conferences in, we continue to grow and change with the industry and address perennial issues like construction risk transfer, as well as the latest issues that face the industry, such as cyber security and drones."

This year's conference exceeded expectations with over 1,500 attendees. "Seeing everyone at the conference engaging in new ways—using the conference app and social media to connect in person with one another—was very rewarding. Our speakers continue to go above and beyond to create outstanding content for our attendees. We heard rave reviews on many of them. Several sessions were so popular that attendance was standing room only," Beasley said.

Sharon Barowsky, risk control manager for Rosendin Electric (, an electrical contractor headquartered in San Jose, California, has attended IRMI CRC eight times. Barowsky's main focus for this year's conference was to obtain CE credits for her Construction Risk and Insurance Specialist (CRIS) certification and to attend workshops on unfamiliar topics to broaden her knowledge base. "Several topics this year, most notably drones and cyberliability, were eye-opening with respect to just how susceptible Internet-based operations can be," said Barowsky.

The opening general session keynote address, "Easiest Catch: Don't Be Another Fish in the Cybernet," from Mark Lanterman, chief technology officer for Computer Forensic Services, held the most impact for attendees. According to IRMI's Beasley, "Cyber security is everywhere in the news, but he took us into the dark Web and showed us how vulnerable we all are."

Lanterman's session used recent high-profile cyberattacks to demonstrate the cyberthreats open to contractors, including phishing, malware and Wi-Fi attacks. Unfortunately, the question for your company currently is not if your information is going to be accessed or stolen, but when. Lanterman shared realistic advice for cyberprotection, urging conference goers to be responsible for their own security and conduct both internal and external periodic cybersecurity assessments.

The 36th IRMI CRC will be held November 6-9, 2016, in Orlando, Florida. Fletcher plans to attend the 2016 conference, saying, "It provides an unparalleled opportunity to build a powerful network of new industry contacts and revisit old ones. It's an investment for a competitive edge."

According to Beasley, "For 2016, we want to continue to grow the IRMI community, grow the conference and provide valuable content and educational opportunities to further the field of construction risk management."

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